What could be more romantic than ballroom dancing on Valentine’s Day? Well, really not that much I believe; it’s pretty hard to top the bittersweet joy of waltzing to Owl City. This Valentine’s Day, the new Muhlenberg DanceSport Club heated up the dancefloor with an invigorating hybrid dance event featuring member performances, dance lessons and some classic free-dancing. The night was an aptly themed affair relating the innately intimate interactions integral to ballroom dancing and the flippant focus on relationships that we associate with Valentine’s Day, altogether creating a truly unique and enjoyable event.
The event rotated between three basic activities on the dance floor throughout the night. One of the rotating activities involved different members of the dance club performing a variety of dances, usually switching between partners as the song continued, allowing for attendees to see several different routines and partner dynamics compacted into a short amount of time. Regular attendees were then invited back onto the dance floor, where the members would begin teaching different basic steps and movements like the ones they had just performed so everyone could try their hand at that particular style of dance.
The president and founder of the Muhlenberg DanceSport Club Anvelyn Pi ’21 lists the steps covered in this event: “Today, we learned New York, the basic box step of the waltz and also the cha-cha chasse,” Pi said, “We did the merengue circle, which [is] not a competition style but a social style.”
Then the dance floor was left open for people to free-dance to popular and requested songs to try out some of their new moves or just let loose for a bit. After dancing for a fair while, the floor was cleared again and attendees could refresh with the build-your-own-cupcake table and recharge as the club members performed more dances and so on, continuing to rotate activities throughout the night.
Muhlenberg DanceSport Club is the newest dance-based club here on campus, but they have already carved out a niche for themselves in the type of dance they perform and made a name for themselves on the national stage. As the name of the club suggests, the Muhlenberg DanceSport Club performs a highly competitive form of dance with a long history in the US, and this dance form has its own competition structure. While the term “ballroom” may be the easiest way to describe the partner-based dances they perform, the style of dance certainly isn’t limited to the classical ballroom dancing that follows a slow, calming beat that you may think. The style of dance that they perform is a far more upbeat grouping of dance styles which includes a great variety of themes and specific dances like salsa, rumba, cha-cha, samba, jazz and many more.
Starting as a small club last semester, the Muhlenberg DanceSport Club went to a collegiate dance competition in Ohio, where the dance team was able to make it to the quarter-finals as rookies. Nora Hardee ’22 and Adrianos Karachalios ’23, two members of the club, performed a rumba routine that brought them to the quarter-finals of their age group.
This achievement is made even more impressive when Pi elaborates on the background behind this, as “only Adrianos had a little bit of American rhythm, but that’s still different from international Latin, and Nora had no experience with international Latin,” Pi said, “and there are lot of colleges competing like NYU, MIT and Harvard … and we beat them!” This gives Muhlenberg one more thing besides the dining hall that they can hold over those schools. Their performance in the competition actually awarded them an invitation to the National Collegiate DanceSport Championships held at the University of Chicago on Mar. 28 and 29.
Pi is proud of the club’s rapid development, now with a membership of almost 30 competitive and non-competitive dancers. This Valentine’s Day dance program was one of hopefully many more events the Muhlenberg DanceSport Club plans to hold in order to further spread their name to interested students and provide a fun outlet for anyone who likes dancing.
If you are interested in participating in ballroom dance events or competitions or just want to learn more about this particular facet of dance culture, you can email the club directly at email@example.com and follow their development on Instagram @bergdancesport. The club meets weekly on Mondays from 5-6:30 p.m. and Sundays from 10:30-12:00 p.m. With their current track record, the Muhlenberg DanceSport Club is looking to quickly find its place as a substantial dance group on campus and make a name for themselves on the national dance floor.